Night two at Nissan Stadium for CMA Fest was full of stellar country music moments.
After night one’s mostly male lineup, CMA Fest attendees heard from of some of the best female voices country music has to offer on Friday night (June 10).
The evening got started with the radiant Deana Carter. She is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her 5x Platinum debut album Did I Shave My Legs for This?, so she sang five hits from that project, including “How Do I Get There” and “We Danced Anyway.” She saved her enduring country standard “Strawberry Wine” for last. Nissan Stadium danced along with her to the titanic hit, and Carter beamed back at them with gratitude.
Kelsea Ballerini brought her pop country confections to her set, including “Miss Me More,” “Love Me Like You Mean It,” “Dibs,” “Yeah, Boy,” and her newest tune, “Heartfirst.” The singer-songwriter shined when singing her more vulnerable songs, such as “Peter Pan” and “Half of My Hometown.” She had just sang the latter in Nissan Stadium alongside her hometown hero Kenny Chesney at his Nashville stop on his “Here And Now Tour.” The emotion was still palpable, as Ballerini gazed out into the Music City crowd while singing about her East Tennessee home.
In a standout moment of the night, Ballerini got down on the floor with the crowd and sang an acoustic rendition of her “Homecoming Queen?”
“Since I’ve seen you last, a lot has happened in the world,” she said. “Going into it was hard, but coming out of it has been equally as hard, if not harder.”
Before she played it, Ballerini encouraged concert-goers to take off whatever “filter” they have over their problems during the song. Ballerini has clearly found strength in vulnerability, and desperately wants to share it with her fans.
Another standout moment came later in the night when Carly Pearce took the stage for a rather short set. After singing her new single, “What He Didn’t Do,” Pearce brought out newly-minted Country Music Hall of Famer, Wynonna Judd.
“Let’s go back to the ’80s, shall we?” Judd said before the two Kentucky girls sang The Judds‘ hit “Why Not Me?” Nissan Stadium was electric with excitement, love and admiration for The Judds and Pearce.
The ever-charismatic Thomas Rhett brought a ton of his hits when he took the stage, including “Look What God Gave Her,” “Get Me Some Of That,” “It Goes Like This,” “Vacation,” “Sixteen” and “Slow Down Summer.” The crowd returned the energy, singing back every word.
His best performance, though, came with “Country Again.” Rhett communicates the honesty in that song, that talks about finding his roots again after shoving them away, with conviction—and he sounds great on it, too.
Rhett closed his set with three crowd favorites, “T-Shirt,” “Die A Happy Man,” and the ever-appropriate for CMA Fest, “What’s Your Country Song?”
At other points in the evening, other talented artists took the stage. Gabby Barrett, donned in a cowboy hat with rhinestone fringe, performed her new single “Pick Me Up” as well as her breakout hit “I Hope.” In Cole Swindell‘s two-song set, he brought out Lainey Wilson for their fiery “Never Say Never,” and performed his new “She Had Me At Heads Carolina.” The tune that harkens back to Jo Dee Messina‘s 1996 smash “Heads Carolina, Tails California” is sure to be a big hit for Swindell, as the crowd enthusiastically sang every word to the song he only released in April.
Lily Rose and Maddie & Tae made use of the Platform Stage. Rose sang her breakout hit “Villain,” and Maddie & Tae performed their “Die From A Broken Heart.”
Kane Brown closed night two at Nissan Stadium with a fun set and stage presence.
“I want to be the most different artist y’all see while you’re here,” Brown said. And there’s a good chance he was. Throughout his set, he brought his down-the-middle country radio hits, such as “Good As You,” “One Mississippi,” “Homesick” and “What Ifs,” as well as his pop-influenced “Be Like That” and “One Thing Right.”
Brown brought the country heat, too, including fan-favorite “Short Skirt Weather” and his “fastest moving song at country radio,” the new single “Like I Love Country Music.”
Saturday night’s (June 11) Nissan show at CMA Fest will feature Brothers Osborne, Luke Bryan, Luke Combs, Randy Houser, and Carrie Underwood.
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